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Visit to Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is a fantastic place to visit – come rain or shine.  Only half an hour’s drive from Appletree Cottage this majestic fortification towers above the small city of Stirling and dates back before medieval times. It has played a significant part in the chequered and turbulent history of Scotland.

Photo of Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle caught in a rainbow

 Situated at what, until 1890, was the lowest bridge crossing of the River Forth, the castle lies at the top of the old town with its esplanade now a car park for visitors.

Photo of Stirling Castle Entrance Gate
Main entrance gate to Stirling Castle

Travel back in time as you cross the bridge from the car park, over the former moat and through the impressive entrance is a small courtyard, In the corner is the ticket office, however, it is usually cheaper to buy tickets online – and best to reserve your parking at the same time.

Photo of Queen Anne's Garden adn Royal Palace
The West side of Queen Anne's Garden and Royal Palace

Through the next arch and to the left is the impressive Queen Ann Gardens with the castle museum and good ramparts to explore.

Photo of Portcullis House Arch
Portcullis House Arch leads to the lower square

If you continue straight ahead, through the second arch of Portcullis House you arrive at the Lower Square where there are fantastic views to the north and The National Wallace Monument high on Abby Craig Hill.

Photo of Cannons of the Grand Battery
The Grand Battery in the Lower Square

There are also the Castle Tearooms and the very impressive Grand Batter line of cannons. 

At the far end of the square are the ancient Great Kitchens and the North Gate dating back to the 1300s – thought to be the oldest surviving part of the castle.

Photo of the North Gate from the lower square
The descent to the North Gate and the Great Kitchens

Through the North Gate is the Nether Green – an open area where troops were billeted with the prison and gunpowder store.  There are fantastic views to the west from here and a good high rampart walk.

Photo taken looking through North Gate
View through the North Gate with fantastic views and rampart walks

At the upper end of the Lower Square is access to the Upper Square through another arch.

Photo of the arch between the squares
The arch separating the Lower and Upper squares

Here you have access to the Chapel Royal, The Great Hall, and The Old Kings Building which is now a museum for the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regiment.

The Great Hall at Stirling Castle
View of the Great Hall and its ancient ceiling

The Chapel Royal was completed in 1594 in time for the christening of Prince Henry, sone of James and Anne of Denmark. The decorations in the chapel are said to date from that time.


View of the Chapel Royal, Stirling Castle
The Chapel Royal in the Upper (or Inner) Square

From this square, there is also the entrance to the Royal Palace which surrounds the Lion’s Den.  It is said the king used to keep Lions to deal with tiresome or unwelcome guests. 

Many of the living apartments of the palace have been reconstructed to show how life was in the day.  The impressive ceilings and artworks have been renovated.

A plan detailing various areas of Stirling Castle
An early map of Stirling Castle layout

It is best to allow at least half a day for your visit to the castle to be able to explore all the historic buildings and artefacts. 

Further details of the individual buildings and things to see within the castle will follow in subsequent blogs.

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